Friday, January 15, 2021

Walking to School

We have all heard of the stories of walking to school two miles in the snow....all uphill. . . etc but this one is true. 

Lawrence County News October 14, 1937

Sometimes he got a ride, and sometimes he didn’t.

  John Dean Birkhimer, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Birkhimer, St Francisville, walked 11 miles to Lawrenceville High School each day and 11 miles back home in the afternoon, graduating in 1928.  He entered the University of Illinois where he graduated with the class of 1932. He won the county superintendent’s scholarship which gave him free tuition at U of I for 4 years. In 1927, he had a job paying him $170 month (during the depression) as a chemist for the Gulf Corporation, Philadelphia, PA. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Attack of WWI Submarine

One of the Lawrence Post Legion members gave the story that follows in the Lawrence County News May 7, 1931.  Unfortunately, the speaker is not named in the article. He describes his experiences during WWI and the first shots he remembered being fired.

 “We left New York city on October 17, 1917, loaded with 10,000 tons of war freight, which included everything from locomotives to mules, medicinal alcohol to iodine. It was the first trip across for most of us.  We considered the trip lightly, little thinking of what it might mean.  However, strict watches were kept at all times for enemy submarines.  When, within 300 miles of the French coast, the bow watch yelled “periscope on starboard bow”.  Immediately every ship in the convoy was signaled.  Every man was called to battle position, guns were trained on the spot where last was seen the submarine’s periscope.  Naturally everyone watched with almost baited breath for the “thing” we had been warned about- that stick like object so feared by merchant vessels -representing disaster and death from below the waves.  Every minute we expected to see the spouting of water from some ship’s side as the deadly torpedo reached its mark.  Yet all was still. 

 “The object appeared and reappeared as the rolling waves brought it to view at about a mile.  Finally, from our port side a ship fired- right across our bow-the shot created pandemonium, as naturally it would.  We could see nothing to shoot at-yet every ship that could point its guns at or near the object without hitting one of its own convoy blazed away.  The firing was terrific.  The naval guns, which were mostly 5 inch 51’s mounted on the merchant ships, placed shot after shot into the water where the “target” was seen.  No submarine could be expected to stand such shellfire- and the main idea was to keep “him” down until we could break convoy and scatter to meet later at rendezvous.

 “Darkness came and the long line of American ships gradually reformed.  Then it was one of our sister ships reported by signals, that the “submarine” had turned out to be a floating barrel with one of the staves sticking up. But the nervousness of one gunner on our sister ship whose trigger finger fired the first shot-which caused a barrage of continuous firing from every ship- was the cause of one of the most interesting battles of the years we sailed the Atlantic.

 “But after all the barrel was demolished-which at least gave us confidence in our combined ability to hit the mark.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Chicago's World's Fair

 Chicago’s World Fair    

There were two events in Chicago considered by some to be a “world’s fair”, one occurring in 1893 and the other in 1933.

The first one, the Columbian Exposition, celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. It followed the celebrated World’s Fair in Paris, and there was much pressure on Chicago to “outdo” the French. They gave the world the Eiffel Tower, and Chicago countered with the first ever Ferris Wheel.  The story of the fair is quite interesting, readers, and if you have a snowy afternoon where you are looking for something to research, take a look at this topic.  Many residents of the county took the train up to Chicago. John W. McCleave’s diary mentions going several times from here. If stories were passed down in your family by people who attended, we would love to hear them.  

A free trip to the World’s Fair in 1893 was given to two of Lawrence County’s charming young ladies. The Sumner Democrat sponsored a contest in which the two young ladies with the greatest number of votes would be given a free trip to Chicago. The girls only had to submit their name, and get their friends to subscribe to the Democrat for one year and have those subscribers vote their twenty-five votes for them. (They also had to be unmarried.) 

The following gentlemen kindly consented to act as committee and count the votes:  Sumner Mayor J. O. McDowell, J. Ed Gould and Frank Westall.

On February 11, 1893, Sumner Democrat published the names of contestants and votes each had received by that date:

Anna Burns, 17, Cora Sheridan, 10, Lena Dunphy, 5, Cora Bosart, 4, Emma Baird, 3, Pearl Bunn, 2, Lizzie Carey, 2, Sarah Waller, 2, Nellie Combs, 1, Maggie Burns, 1, Edna Gordon, 1 Jessie Couchman 1 

New names were added each week; there were apparently quite a number of popular young ladies in this county, and to be considered at the head of the list seemed to be certainly worthy an effort on the part of all the contestants to gain this position. The subscription rate to the newspaper benefitted greatly. 

Contestants as of March 18, 1893, were:  Sarah Waller, 92, Cora Sheridan, 83, Anna Burns, 66, Mamie Wickey, 46, Lena Dunphy, 31, Cleme Morgan, 21, Maud Pepple, 15, Minnie Lutz, 13, Pearl Bunn 6, Emma Baird 5, Cora Bosart 4, Maggie Burns 4, Cordia Morgan, 3, Lizzie Carey 2, Nellie Combs, 1, Edna Gordon 1, Stella McGuire, 1. 

As of April 15, 1893, the contestants and votes each had received to date were:

Cora Sheridan 138, Anna Burns 129, Sarah Waller, 121 Mamie Wickey 107 Lena Dunphy 31, Cleme Morgan 21, Maud Pepple 18 Minnie Lutz 14, Cordia Morgan 11, Nellie combs, 9, Pearl Bunn 6, Cora Bosart 4, Hattie Judy 2, Lizzie Carey 2, Edna Gordon 1, Stella McGuire 1, Rosa Elder 1, Rosa Winship 1  

On April 22, 1893, the contestants with their respective votes were again published in the paper:  

Cora Sheridan 175, Mamie Wickey 147 Sarah Waller, 131, Anna burns 129, Lena Dunphy 31, Jesse Couchman 31, Maud Pepple 22 Cleme Morgan 21 Minnie Lutz 17, Cordia Morgan 11, Nellie combs, 9, Pearl Bunn 6, Cora Bosart 4, Maggie Burns 4 Hattie Judy 2, Lizzie Carey 2, Edna Gordon 1, Stella McGuire 1, Rosa Elder 1, Rosa Winship 1, Della Gordon 1 

The researchers failed to find any further information about the contest after this date.  It seems highly probable that Cora Sheridon won first place but the second place is harder to predict. Perhaps an account of the girls’ experience will turn up someplace and when it does it will be published here. 

All we know at this point in time is that several years later in 1900, the popular Miss Cora Sheridan married Dr. E. A. Sheridan, both age 30, October 17, at the home of the bride. Dr. E. A. Sheridan was partner in the Dale & Sheridan drug firm of Sumner and Cora was the eldest daughter of Mrs. Mattie Sheridan, proprietress of the popular Sheridan House.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Get Out of Jail for $700

 Many of our readers remember the story of the only police officer shot in the line of duty in Lawrence County.  If not, check out the Murder of George Bopp on this blog, or read about it in Vol 2 of Lawrence Lore, click here. At the time we published that, we did not know the following part of the story.

April 22 1893 Sumner Democrat R. E. Mabry of Fairfield, who came up short in his accounts as Circuit Clerk of Wayne County, and late clerk of the Chester penitentiary is about to be investigated by the house committee on penal and reformatory institutions on a charge made by Samuel Palmer, a farmer living near Sumner, Illinois.  Palmer has a son in the penitentiary, who is serving a sentence of twenty- one years for the murder of a constable who was attempting to arrest him.

The old gentleman claims that last fall he made a contract with Mabry by which the latter was to secure his son’s release from prison.  He says he gave the chief clerk $300 and agreed to increase the amount to $700 when his son was liberated.  Mabry was to use his influence with the Governor to secure the young man’s pardon, and, in case he failed, Palmer says, he was to get back all the money but $85, which would be applied to Mabry’s expenses.

The agreement, Palmer claims was the pardon would be procured by Jan 1. That date has passed, Mabry has left the prison, and Palmer is now demanding that some action be taken whereby he can recover the money he claims to have paid the clerk. The matter will be brought to the attention of House committee by Mr. Black at Palmer’s request.     (Originally printed in the Louisville Ledger.)


Monday, January 11, 2021

B.R. and Luella Eaton Lewis 1960


 The researchers found this very nice photo of B. R. and Luella Eaton Lewis taken in 1960.  Since Luella died in 1960, this must have been one of the last photos taken of her.  B.R. was 80 years old at the time this photo was taken. (Check previous blog entries for more information about B. R. Lewis.  

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Houses over 100 years Old in 1971


 This photograph was found In the Daily Record on February 10, 1971.  William S. Hennessy built this home in the late 1870s at 1802 Porter Avenue.  Pictured is his son, Thomas R. Hennessy.

Ernest Helm and Sam E. Jones compiled an informal list for what they called the Sesqui- Corner published in the newspaper in 1971.  No doubt there were other homes from the nineteenth century and asked readers to notify them of others. It would be interesting now to see how many houses remain.

According to Helm and Jones, other homes built before 1900 include the Watts house on Lexington at 13th where Miss Mildred Watts and Mrs. A. H. Worner were born. The Gilbert home on 9th north of State behind the Marathon Station, several homes on Jefferson between 13th and 15th; the Bunyan home at State and 7th built in 1895, the Cunningham home behind the hospital, and the two houses on the south side of State between 7th and 8th built by the Lackey and Purdy families. 

Byrd Bridgett’s (1971) home formerly stood where the post office parking lot is. It was owned by George Nunn and was later moved to its location on Jefferson street. The big house trimmed in red on Lexington, one house from the Porter avenue corner dates from this period.  The long windows give a clue to its age, according to Jones. 

Other houses of the last century are at 1416 Tenth, at the foot of the State Street hill on the north side at about 5th street, and the building on Jefferson where Dr. Charles Stoll has his office (1971).

 If you live in one of these homes, or know of others, please contact us lawrencelore@gmail.com.  

Friday, January 8, 2021

Checker Club 1902

 Checker Club 1902  (as reported in the Daily Record February 12, 1923)

" The un- organized Lawrenceville checker club contained the following members:  J. H. Roberts, Dr. Z. D. French, Captain Utter, Harrison Hardacre, J. B. Robinson, P. J. Carr and G. P. Gordon, perhaps the last two named should not be included in the club although they were frequent players. Mr. Gordon was traveling in those days and his attendance at the club was during his weekend visits home.  P. J. Carr was an excellent checker player but his playing was only at such times as his work did not call him.  The meetings were held in the Roberts store and the Stoltz drug store.  The Stoltz drug store was where L. L. Bussee is now located and was conducted by S. O. Stoltz.  Those were important, long drawn- out games with which nothing was allowed to interfere-- meals, business or sickness.  The J. H. Robert’s Hardware store was located where the Lewis Drug Store has been for some time.  Mr. Roberts sold his store in the next few years, closing a forty- year term as a Lawrenceville business man."


Ed Note. The stores mentioned were located on the north east corner of the square in Lawrenceville, where the Credit Union and Rachel Michele's hair Salon is now. (Many of you will remember that was the Studley Drug Store corner.) S. O. Stolz was located in what is now the credit union building and J. H. Robert's hardware store was located in what would later become the drug store building.  



These photos were taken in 1911 after Paul Lewis had started Lewis Rexall where the hardware store had been located.  Mary Westall is at the soda counter with Paul on the left side talking to an unknown drug salesman from Evansville in the bottom photo.  The top photo shows Ed Potts, Dr. and Mrs. H. V. Lewis, (Paul's parents)  Chester Dittman, Pat Conover and Mary Westall, again  behind the counter. The seventh person was not identified on the back of the photo. If you look closely you can see both a Rexall and a Coca-Cola sign.